More than half of schools are planning to axe staff, research shows… and further cuts are on the way

More than half of school leaders say they will be looking to cut staffing costs in the next year, according to a survey published today.

The news comes as TES reveals that ministers are considering more drastic cuts to school funding as the Treasury seeks to balance the public’s finances.

The Department for Education is proposing to slash the education services grant, a pot of cash that is handed directly to academies to cover the costs of services that would otherwise be provided by local authorities.

It is widely expected that the 16-19 budget will bear the brunt of cuts in next week’s spending review, followed by the early years sector.

But TES understands officials within the DfE have been forced to raid the ESG budget, after prime minister David Cameron decided to protect universal free school meals for infants. The promise committed the DfE to additional spending of around £600 million a year.

The move is likely to be met with fierce opposition from teaching unions, which warned that existing budget pressures were hitting schools hard.

The survey results released today by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) show that 55 per cent of headteachers expect to cut staff costs in the coming year.

The research also reveals that 36 per cent of heads are planning to reduce the overall size of their leadership teams over the next 12 months.

The survey of more than 1,300 school leaders, carried out by law firm Browne Jacobson, suggests that 61 per cent of heads will make cuts of between 2 and 5 per cent to their school workforce.

Brian Lightman, ASCL’s general secretary, said of the survey’s findings: “School leaders do everything in their power to minimise the impact on their pupils, but budget reductions on this scale inevitably mean cutting courses and increasing class sizes.

“We are particularly worried about the woefully inadequate level of funding for post-16 education which is having a significant and detrimental impact on school sixth forms and colleges. Education is an investment in the future of young people and the economy. We are failing to put enough money into that investment and without urgent action we will pay a long-term price.”

For more on this story and for full coverage and analysis of the threats to school funding subscribe to TES here.

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